Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Even More Needs vs. Wants Titles

 Bikes for Rent By Isaac Olaleye

Lateef lives in a poor village in Nigeria. He longs to rent a bike from Babatunde's used bicycle hut, but his family has no spare money to give him. Lateef takes it upon himself to collect firewood and mushrooms in the rainforest so that he can sell them for money at the village market. Through hard work he earns enough money to begin renting bikes and loves riding with his friends. One day he rents a shiny, red new bike with the promise that he will be especially careful. On a dare from his friends he rides downhill without holding the handlebars and damages the bike's front wheel. In order to pay back Babatunde for the repair he begins working at the hut learning to repair bikes. Lateef learns a new trade, how to pay off a debt, and the importance of taking ownership over his actions.

At a time when many students are handed anything they want this is a great story to remind students that in other parts of the world things are very different than in America.

 If You Give a Dog a Donut By Laura Numeroff
Grades K-2

Discussion Seed: I particularly like this newer Numeroff If You Give...story, but any of them would work as a needs and wants book. I like to read the book first. Then I go back and reread it, stopping at each page asking the students if what the dog asks for is a Need or a Want.

 Chicken Sunday By Patricia Polacco
Grades 3-6

Chicken Sunday is a heart-warming tale of inter-faith friendships, inter-racial friendships, and doing what's right.  Patricia Polacco tells a true story about two of her best friends growing up, Winston and Stewart. More than anything they want to buy Eula Mae Walker (Winston and Stewart's gramma) an Easter bonnet from Mr. Kodinski's shop. They can't afford the bonnet and things aren't looking good when they are mistaken for some troublemakers throwing eggs at Mr Kodinski's shop door. It takes guts and a lot of creativity to convince Mr Kodinski that they are good kids who mean truly well. They learn to make decorated eggs using hot wax and dye in the Eastern European tradition and present them to Mr. Kodinski as a peace-offering. He allows them to sell the beautiful eggs in his shop to make enough money to purchase the bonnet for Eula Mae, but Mr. Kodinski has a surprise of his own. He tells them to keep their hard-earned money and gives them the bonnet for free.
Though the Holocaust isn't mentioned in this book, it is alluded to and in one illustration you can see the ID number tatooed on Mr. Kodinki's arm. This book could be used in so many contexts for classroom discussions.

Sam and the Lucky Money By Karen Chinn
Grades 1-3

Sam is excited to go shopping with his mother on Chinese New Year's Day and spend the lucky money in the traditional red envelope that his grandparents have gifted him. On his journey through Chinatown Sam sees many things he wants to buy, but he grows disappointed as he realizes he doesn't have enough lucky money to purchase them. Sam ends up giving his money to a homeless man on the street who has no shoes. He tells the man it isn't enough for shoes, but he can at least purchase socks to keep his feet warm. A great story about charity and selflessness.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wordless Picture Books - Kindergarten Focused

I enjoy using wordless books with my classes on occasion to allow them the chance to offer up their versions of narration. It's fun to see what they come up with from looking at the illustrations. I love it when rather than just giving a running narration they throw in some dialogue. When I do a wordless book I like to sit on the carpet with my students and hold the book in my lap. The class forms a circle around me so they can all see the photos. I make sure to pick books that aren't too confusing and don't have too many details which would be hard to see in a classroom setting. Here are four that work quite nicely for kindergarten.

 Rainstorm By Barbara Lehman
Grades PreK-5
 Lehman makes fabulous wordless picture books, but I find some of them to be a little too cerebral for my kindergarten crew. Rainstorm though fits the bill for this age beautifully. It's got enough twists and turns to keep them interested and excited, but isn't going to leave them asking, "huh?" In Rainstorm a boy finds a key in his house that unlocks a chest and inside the chest is a ladder. As he climbs down the ladder he goes on an adventure that leads to more twists and turns including a lighthouse. He meets some other kids along the way and invites them to play with him so he's not bored anymore.

The Snowman By Raymond Briggs
Grades PreK-3
Depending on the size of your class this one may or may not work. Most of the spreads have numerous smaller pictures so it can be hard to see them all in a big group. If you have a class of less than 15 it should work just fine. It's certainly a favorite to do on a lap at home too with your own child. The kids love this book and how it brings to mind Frosty the Snowman. A boy builds a snowman who magically comes to life. He invites him into his house to show him his room, toys, etc. and then after returning outside the snowman takes the boy's hand and they fly into the sky. The end of the story shows the boy back in his bed asleep and then rushing out in the morning only to find that the snowman has melted. This ending could be upsetting to very young kids so just keep it in mind if your audience is especially sensitive.

Pancakes for Breakfast By Tomie DePaola
Grades PreK-2
This is shorter wordless book than The Snowman and has larger pictures which makes it great to do with even a large class. At the crack of down a little woman lying in bed is thinking of a pancake breakfast. She starts gathering her ingredients together only to find out that most of what she needs isn't there. She must go to the henhouse for more eggs, out to the barn to get milk, to the neighbor for maple syrup, etc. As she is finally ready to get cooking she sees that her dog and cat have gotten into the kitchen and made a big mess of everything she had laid out. Just when her hopes of pancakes are crumbling she smells an aroma wafting across the yard and walks over to the neighbor's house. There she sits and gets to finally enjoy a big stack of pancakes. The last picture shows her sitting in her living room with an embroidery sampler framed on the wall which says "If at first you don't succeed try, try again".

The Surprise By Sylvia van Ommen
Grades K-3
The sweetest tale of friendship! Sheep dyes his own wool, shaves it, throws on a sweater so she won't be cold, hops on her moped and brings it to a poodle to be spun into yarn then takes it back home and knits it into a sweater for her best friend giraffe. The best picture is giraffe bending down to give sheep a kiss of appreciation.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Perfect Square

Perfect Square By Michael Hall
Grades PreK-2

It was a perfect square with matching sides and corners. It was perfectly happy. But on Monday it was cut into pieces and poked full of holes. It wasn't a perfect square anymore so it changed itself into a fountain. Each day of the week the square is cut or wrinkled or ripped and it takes the new shapes and turns them into something completely new like a river or a mountain. Beautiful colors and simple text manage to transport you to a creative world.

Discussion Seed: Ask your students why they think at the end of the book the square isn't happy being just a square, though he was at the beginning of the book. With kindergaretn or PreK this book can be used to review days of the week, colors and shapes.

Craft Seed: Have students start with a simple square. Ask them to cut or rip it and then take the pieces and glue them down into something completely new.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Favorite Poetry Books

Technically, It's Not My Fault By John Grandits
Grades 4 and up

These poems are all Robert's thought about the world around him. He is kooky and funny and definitely creative. I love the poem about how every time he tries to skateboard he gets yelled out and told to leave and then when he gives up and goes home his mom yells at him for sitting inside and tells him to go outside with his skateboard. The poems just ring true from a pre-teen perspective. The ways Grandits plays with art, shapes, fonts and words is amazing.

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It by Gail Carson Levine
Grades 3 and up 

These false apology poems teach kids that poetry can be dry, sarcastic, funny and have such truth in them all at the same time. Some of the poems are written from the point of view of a nursery rhyme or fairy tale characters, making them perfect for a library unit of study. The more familiar your students are with these stories the more meaningful the poems will be. Asking my classes to write their own false apology poems from the perspective of a book character would be a good jumping off point for this style.

Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word By Bob Raczka
Grades 3 and up

Of these three poetry books I feel like this would be the one that's hardest to emulate. To take a word such as spaghetti and then using only the letters in that word make a whole poem is so difficult! But I sure do love what Rasczka did with it:




The man is a genius. The poems are beautiful in their simplicity.

Lesson Seeds: I would ask my students to try to create poems following the same styles in each of these books. This is not easy to do and while students might enjoy these poems in younger grades, to create this kind of poetry would be more successful with students in grades 5 and up. In  Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It by Gail Carson Levine there is a two-page layout that gives some simple directions to create your own false apology poems inspired by William Carlow Williams' poem "This is just to say". She explains the repeating line of forgive me, how many stanzas and how many lines in each stanza. She also encourages the writer to read the poems aloud to make sure it has the proper rhythm. Concrete poems written in certain shapes are fun to do on the computer by using different fonts.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

More Needs vs. Wants Titles

 The Rag Coat By Lauren Mills
Grades 4-6

Minna's father has died from a coal miner's cough and her mother struggles to make ends meet in their Appalachian community. She isn't able to walk to school because the family has no money to buy her a coat. Through the thoughtfulness and generosity of the local women they use their fabric scraps to stitch together a "rag coat." The children at school tease Minna for her "rag coat" until she reminds them of the precious stories that come from each piece of fabric.

A Chair for My Mother By Vera B. Williams
Grades 2-5

Rosa and her mother's apartment is burned in a fire and they lose all their belongings. Her mother works hard in the diner earning tips so that they can buy a new comfy chair. It takes a long time and some help from family to fill her tip jar, but eventually they do. This is a story about working hard to reach a goal, about the love of a tight-knit community, and about the generosity and bonds of a family.

 Something Special for Me By Vera B. Williams
Grades 2-5

This is the second book in the series about Rosa and her mother. In the first book the money in the tip jar is spent so her mother can have a nice chair. In this story, mother and grandmother want the money in the jar to go to Rosa for her birthday so that she may have something special. It is hard for her to decide what to get. She doesn't want to be frivolous because she understands the value of hard-earned money. When money is tight decisions become more weighty and this is an important underlying message in the book. A loving non-nuclear family is highlighted once again.

Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
Grades 2-4

 Alexander gets a dollar when his grandparents come to visit. He intends to save it up for some new walkie-talkies. Before he knows what's happened it's been fiddled away for chewing gums, bets with his mom, being fined by his dad for fighting, eating his brother's chocolate bar, etc. A good lesson in spending and saving and thinking carefully about what we want in the moment vs. we need in the long-term.

I Really Absolutely Must Have Glasses By Lauren Child
Grades K-2

My students adore the Charlie and Lola series and this is no exception. In typical fashion Lola decides she NEEDS glasses because her friend Mini has a great flowery pair. Unfortunately, the
optician tells Lola she has strong eyesight and is in no need of correction. Charlie is there to save his little sister's day and together they make a pair of sparkly glasses out of paper much to Lola's delight.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Needs vs. Wants

Those Shoes By Maribeth Boelts
Grades 2-5

An urban boy wants the same sneakers he sees his classmates wearing, but his grandmother can't afford to buy them. He ends up finding a pair in the thrift shop and even though they're too small he buys them anyway. They squeeze his feet and cause him pain and eventually he does a such a big-hearted thing with those shoes. The end of this book makes your heart swell.

 Something Beautiful By Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Grades 3-6

A little girl lives in the inner city and is hard-pressed to find much beauty around her. As she speaks to her neighbors and friends they point out that which is beautiful to them. She begins to see beauty in the small every day things and starts to make some changes in her neighborhood to erase the ugly. Touching and so real.

 Owen By Kevin Henkes
Grades K-2

A funny book about security and family and growing up. Owen wants to bring his security blanket everywhere, he needs the comfort that it provides. His parents worry that maybe he is getting too old for such nonsense and with the nosy neighbor's input start trying some methods to part Owen from his blankie. The twist at the end shown only in the picture clue reminds us that we all need comforting.

 Joseph Had a Little Overcoat By Simms Taback
Grades K-2

When Joseph has an overcoat that gets old and worn he doesn't throw it out. He turns it into something else again and again. A good book to teach about reusing and not being wasteful. Beautiful illustrations in this die-cut Caldecott winning book.


 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble By William Steig
Grades 2-5

When Sylvester finds a magic pebble and realizes it grants wishes he is overjoyed. Before he can bring it home to show his parents however a lion creeps up on him and afraid of being attacked Sylvester wishes to be a rock. Unable to wish himself back to being himself Sylvester is stuck being a rock for a very long time. His parents search and search for their beloved son, but are unable to find him. One spring day they decide that in order to cheer themselves up they will go on a picnic. While they are eating on the rock (that also just happens to be Sylvester) they notice the magic red pebble on the ground nearby and after picking it up they wish that Sylvester could be there with them. Instantly the rock turns back into Sylvester and the family is reunited. They tuck the magic pebble away in a safe place and realize they have nothing else to wish for because they have all they could really need, each other.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Diary (The Totally True Story of Me!)

My Diary (The Totally True Story of Me!) By Gilles Tibo
Grades 2-4

I will hand this to my students who like reading diaries or books that deal with heavier topics, but aren't ready to tackle something too long or deep. This diary written by Marilou is filled with her thoughts and poetry dealing with issues such as her goldfish dying, her parents announcing they're having a baby boy and fighting with her best friend. It's sectioned into themes like death, sadness, courage, freedom and hope. I think her entries are very relate-able for a younger child.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Patricia and Me

Here I am with the spunkiest and most down-to-earth author you could ever hope to meet. 
Patricia MacLachlan - we all love you!
Thank you for an amazing visit to Washington School in October 2012.

Oh, How Sylvester Can Pester (And Other Poems More or Less About Manners)

Oh, How Sylvester Can Pester By Robert Kinerk
Grades 1-5

These funny poems about messiness & manners are combined with great illustrations. My personal favorite is titled "Brussels Sprouts" about a boy named Chauncey who writes a poem to his parents in hopes of convincing them not to make him eat the dreaded mini cabbages. It doesn't work, but he gives it a good effort for sure!

Lesson Seed: After reading a handful of these poems to your students have them write their own poems about poor manners. Pick whatever format they happen to be learning (acrostic, diamante, free verse, etc.) Allow them to illustrate the poems and then turn it into a class book.

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah By Leslie Kimmelman
Grades K-3

The traditional story of The Little Red Hen with a Jewish Passover twist. This is a perfect story to introduce Passover to your students in public schools (informative yet fun and not too religious). The poor little red hen is making matzah for Passover and none of her animal friends want to help plant or harvest the grain, bring it to the miller or help cook the meal. Yet when it comes time for the Seder they certainly want to be invited in to eat! What should the little red hen do? Since she's a mensch (a decent person) of course she invites them all to eat with her. In the back of the book a description of Passover is included, along with a recipe for homemade matzah and a glossary of Yiddish phrases used throughout the story.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Over and Under the Snow

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Grades K-5
Poetic perfection is rare to find in a nonfiction selection written for children, but Kate Messner has achieved it. I love showing my students examples of nonfiction that are illustrated because some of them think a nonfiction book must have real photographs. This book reads more like a story about a girl going cross country skiing with her father and all the animal tracks they find along the way. Her father tells her about the animals hibernating right under the now. I love finding winter books and projects that aren't holiday focused and this fits the bill. Below are three hibernation crafts/projects that I found which could pair well with Over and Under the Snow and some songs and finger plays you could try as well.
 Sleeping Bear in Cotton Ball Covered Paper Plate Cave found here.
 Where Do Animals Go in the Winter? Craft found here.
 Sleeping Bear in Cave with Autumn Leaves craft found here.

Here are some songs and finger plays that will go great with your hibernation themed story time.
I found these songs and rhymes on the fun4kids blog.

Hibernation Song
(to tune of wheels on the bus)
The weather's getting cold so bundle up,
bundle up, bundle up
The weather's getting cold so bundle up,
winter's coming soon.
The bears in the cave sleep all the time............
The squirrels in the trees get lots of nuts...............
The frogs and toads go deep in mud.......
The ducks and the geese go flying south........
The people in the town wear hats and gloves..........

Here is a Cave
Here is a cave. (make arch with one hand)
 Inside is a bear. (using other hand, put one finger in cave)
Now he comes out. (pull finger out)
To get some fresh air.
He stays out all summer
In sunshine and heat. (fan face with hand)
He hunts in the forest (crawling motion with hands)
 For berries to eat. (fingers to mouth)
When snow starts to fall (wiggle fingers like snow falling)
He hurries inside.
His warm little cave (make arch with hand again)
And there he will hide.(put your finger inside)
 Snow covers the cave
Like a fluffy white rug.
Inside the bear sleeps (hands to side of head like sleeping)
All cozy and snug.

Winter Animals
Winter is cold (hug yourself and shiver)
There is snow in the sky (flutter fingers above your head)
 The squirrel gathers nuts (Pretend to gather nuts)
And the wild geese fly (flap arms)
The fluffy red fox (Cup hand over had to form ears)
Has his fur to keep warm (Stroke arms as if stroking fur)
The bear’s in her cave (form a arch with your arms)
Sleeping all through the storm (fold hand under cheek and pretend to sleep)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Lonely Book

The Lonely Book by Kate Bernheimer
Grades K-4

An enchanting story about a book who was once frequently check out and loved, but over time got lonelier and lonelier sitting on a shelf in the library. Eventually it ends up in the basement awaiting the book sale. Luckily a little girl who had once loved the book very much and had been searching for it for quite some time spots it at the book sale and brings it home for good. Not it will always be read and loved. This is such a celebration of reading and how a special book can remain in your heart forever.

Lesson Idea: I would read this book to my 3rd or 4th graders and then have them write about their favorite book that has touched their own life.

The Cat in the Hat

We're getting ready for Read Across America Day!

This week I made this cute Thing 1 and Thing 2 project with my kindergarten classes. First we read The Cat in the Hat by the beloved Dr. Seuss. Then I helped the students trace their hand and foot to make the hair and body of the creatures. I had pre-cut the brown circles for them to use as heads. Then all they had to do was glue it all together onto white paper and add arms, faces and legs. Due to time constraints each kindergartener only made one and they picked whether it would have a #1 or #2 on its shirt. Thanks for this great idea Nora Davis of Kindergarten SuperKids! Her blog and more detailed information about her lesson can be found by clicking here.

Eight Keys

Eight Keys By Suzanne LaFleur
Grades 4-8

Elise lives with her aunt and uncle because her parents died when she was young. Behind the house is a large barn and on the second story of the barn there are eight locked doors. Elise and her best friend Franklin are getting bullied at school and she is having an identity crisis growing up without her parents and not feeling like she truly fits in anywhere. When she discovers a key that unlocks on of the barn's doors she begins a journey of self-discovery. Her father, before he died of cancer, filled each of the 8 rooms with special memories of himself, Elise's mother and Elise. This is a tear-jerker and a book I have yet to recommend to a student who didn't also become fascinated with Elise and her life. As she learns about where she came from she begins to have a sense of self-worth and matures in many ways.

A Horse of Her Own

A Horse of Her Own By Annie Wedekind
Grades 4-8

I'm not a horse lover, I've never even ridden a horse, but it didn't prevent me from absolutely falling in love with this book.  This is a story about Jane who has been riding horses at Sunny Acres for years. However unlike many of the girls who ride there her family doesn't have enough money to buy her a horse of her own. She rides Beau and forms a strong attachment to him. When she finds out she is no longer going to be able to ride Beau she is devastated. She is offered the challenge of training a feisty horse instead named Lancelot. Jane is up for the challenge and becomes a stronger rider and a stronger young woman throughout the process. She learns a lot about herself and what it means to be true to yourself and not bend to fit in with the popular girls. She develops her first crush on one of the boys who takes care of the horses. All in all just a wonderful chapter book for your girls who want real-life characters and a plot that keeps you turning the pages.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Perfect Gift

The Perfect Gift By Mary Newell DePalma
Grades K-3

Little Lorikeet found a strawberry that the larger lorikeets had missed. She is going to bring it to her grandmother as a gift but it plops into the river. A chipmunk, goose and frog all try to help her get the strawberry back. But when they finally do an alligator pounces and Lori must use the strawberry to help them all escape his hungry grasp. With the strawberry gone now what will poor Lori give to her grandmother? She and her new friends make a beautiful book telling about their adventure and grandmother adores their thoughtful gift.

Lesson Seed: Use this book when kicking off writer's workshop small moment writing. It will serve as a reminder that we can all write about our everyday lives and adventures with friends (even if our days don't involve escaping the clutches of an alligator!).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Emma Kate

Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco
Grades K-4

A sweet tale of friendship between a girl and an elephant. What makes it memorable and special is when you find out at the end that **spoiler alert** it's not the girl telling the story about her pet elephant, it's the elephant telling the story about her pet human. Patricia Polacco has done it again. As if there was any doubt...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Best Friends Forever

Best Friends Forever - A World War II Scrapbook By Beverly Patt
Grades 4-8

Best Friends Forever is a stellar example of a first person narrative for your upper elementary or middle school students. It is set up to look just like an actual journal with pasted or taped in photographs, newspaper clippings, pressed flowers, ticket stubs, invitations and even a bandaid. It's a World War II scrapbook kept between two girls who are best friends. Louise Margaret Krueger is a 14 year old white American girl and Dottie Masuoka (also 14) is a Japanese American girl. When Dottie and her family are sent to internment camps during the war the girls keep this journal of notes and letters back and forth as a way to stay in touch. It covers the time period on World War II beautifully and explains the horrors of the internment camps, but also doesn't lose sight of the fact that it's truly about these two friends and what is important to them in their early teen years. Whether you're looking for historical fiction, journal writing, or just a great story of friendship I would highly recommend sharing this one with your female students

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dog in Charge

Dog in Charge By K.L. Going
Grades K-3

Another fabulous dog story! Dog is put in charge by his owners to watch all five cats that live with him. The cats are causing so much trouble and making a mess. Dog is sure when his owners get home he'll be in big trouble and will never be put in charge again. Luckily the cats love Dog and clean everything up in the nick of time. They are mischievous, but they love their friend Dog. The cartoons and layout are somewhat reminiscent of a comic strip but since the layout is very large it's great for a classroom or library read aloud. Nothing is too small or cluttered to see from afar. 

Discussion Seed: This is a great book to stop and ask the students for predictions. I would ask them to predict what they think will happen when the dog is put in charge of 5 cats. I'd also stop and ask my students to predict what will happen when the cats make such a mess and the dog becomes distraught. I think the twist at the end with the cats quickly fixing everything while the dog naps is a good surprise that the children will laugh at and not expect.

Friday, January 11, 2013

What Is Your Dog Doing?

What Is Your Dog Doing? By Marilyn Singer
Grades PreK-3

At my school the dog books, both fiction and non-fiction fly off the shelves. I can't buy enough of them to suit my students. If you have some dog lovers consider this one. Most pages are a short phrase with a rhyming phrase on the opposite page. A few of the pages are a double spread. The illustrations are cartoon-like and very brightly colored. Even though the text is simplistic making it a perfect choice for young emerging readers, the fun illustrations and rhyming patterns make it suitable for older students as well. I know this one will be a hit and I am excited to read it to my kindergarten next week.

Dog inspecting (police dog sniffing a Burgertown paper sack)
Dog protecting (dog keeping his bone away from a big cat)

Dog that knows the way to guide (seeing eye dog)
Dog that knows just where to hide (dog behind living room curtains)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jan Thomas Rocks!

 Is Everyone Ready for Fun? By Jan Thomas
Grades PreK-2

Three cows get wild and crazy on chicken's sofa dancing and wiggling much to his chagrin. But they finally have a great idea that even chicken loves...a nap!

Can You Make a Scary Face? By Jan Thomas
Grades PreK-2 

  A bossy ladybug doling out orders is what this interactive book is all about.

If you're looking for a quiet, calm story hour with your students DO NOT choose the Jan Thomas titles above. If however you're looking for some chaos, some noisy, silly boisterous fun, step right up! Jan Thomas writes brightly colored, short books that are perfect for the PreK and Kindergarten crowd. They are interactive and completely zany. I love reading them with my kindergarten students and they love being able to get their wiggles out. Just don't say I didn't warn you about the noise level!

Heroes of the Surf

Heroes of the Surf By Elisa Carbone
Grades 2-5

This is an action-packed historical fiction picture book that grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the final page. On April 22, 1822 the British Steamship Pliny was headed for New York City from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and crashed off the shore of New Jersey on May 13th. This story, based on a true event, tells about the crash, the passengers (including children) on board and the eventual rescue by the US Life Saving Service (now US Coast Guard). All of the passengers survived the crash and this happy ending, along with the vivid storytelling makes for such a great read aloud. Looking for an adventure story to recommend to a student or a good example of historical fiction to use as a mentor text with your students? You've found it.
The afterword gives further information about the ship and rescue for your history buffs.

April Fool, Phyllis!

April Fool, Phyllis! By Susanna Leonard Hill
Grades K-3

Punxsutawney Phyllis returns! This is the second Phyllis book by Susanna Leonard Hill and it is a great read aloud to do with your elementary aged children the week of April Fool's Day. Phyllis predicts that a blizzard is coming and warns her family that they should cancel the annual treasure hunt. Her family thinks she is trying to play an April Fool's joke and doesn't heed her warnings. When the blizzard arrives as predicted it's up to Phyllis to help everyone get safely back home. Luckily she is up to the challenge.
Bonus: In the back of the book there is an entire page devoted to the history of April Fool's Day and how it's celebrated around the world.
Lesson Idea: In the story Phyllis, her siblings and cousins solve riddles while they are on their treasure hunt. Write some riddles for your students leading them to certain books in the library. 
Example: Who eats more food every day for a week until he ends up with a bellyache?
The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Otto the Book Bear

Otto the Book Bear By Katie Cleminson
Grades K-3

Otto is a book fair with a secret. When nobody i looking he comes to life and leaves his book. He loves when children read his book, but one day something awful happens. The family that owns Otto's book moves and leaves his book behind. Otto doesn't like being alone so he sets off on an adventure. Luckily he finds a new, wonderful place to call home, a library! Now lots of children read his book and he isn't lonely anymore. Adorable story and would pair well with Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen as some fun beginning of the year library read alouds.

The Boys

The Boys By Jeff Newman
Grades 1-4

Wow! This is an almost wordless book, other than the days of the week at the tops of the pages. A small blond haired boy watches the neighborhood boys playing baseball at the park. He is too shy to ask to join and he stands behind a tree. Wednesday, discouraged, he packs up his baseball bat and grabs a loaf of bread to feed the pigeons. He goes to the park again, but this time he sits next to four old men who hang out together on the park bench. The men's expressions show that they are not too happy he is sitting with them instead of playing with his peers. On Thursday the boy shows up again with bread to sit with the old men and this time he has combed his hair like them and is wearing a bow tie, windowpane plaid pants and is carrying a cane. As the week continues the men are able to get the boy to start playing baseball with them, and then with the boys his age. The last day shows him playing baseball in the park with the old men cheering for him on their bench.I think this is a fantastic wordless book to use with young students and have them take turns narrating what is happening on each page.